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Pediatric trainees coming to Victoria General Hospital

B.C.’s residency training for pediatricians has expanded to Victoria General Hospital, marking the first time it has been offered outside of Vancouver.
Victoria General Hospital
Victoria General Hospital.

B.C.’s residency training for pediatricians has expanded to Victoria General Hospital, marking the first time it has been offered outside of Vancouver.

Two pediatric residents — medical-school graduates receiving extensive clinical training — are in place at the hospital, with a total of eight to be on-site by July 2018.

The residency is part of the Island Medical Program, based at the University of Victoria and led by the University of British Columbia medical school.

The Ministry of Health said the move is part of an overall provincial strategy. Bringing doctors in training to more communities will enhance medical education and improve access to health-care services, Health Minister Terry Lake said.

The main pediatric-residency site is Vancouver’s B.C. Children’s Hospital. The residents in Victoria are among 60 in the province.

Victoria General is a logical choice for a second headquarters since it is Vancouver Island’s primary pediatric hospital, treating 90 per cent of Island children requiring pediatric care.

That generally includes patients ranging from infants to 18 year olds, said Victoria pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Balfour, associate director of the new Island program for UBC.

She said there may be some minor renovations needed to meet the needs of residents, including rooms that are specially designed to be like a clinic.

Residents, who put in a minimum of four years, will take their studies beyond the walls of the hospital, Balfour said.

“One of the things about this program is that we’re also trying to ensure that the residents are in the community,” she said, explaining that could mean going up-Island, to community offices, or to the Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health.

“We think that that’s really essential because residency training traditionally has always taken place in the hospital, yet as more and more patient care takes place outside of the hospital, we need to make sure that trainees are ready to practise in that environment.”

That sort of residency training will also benefit the public, Balfour said.

“We do think that these trainees are going to be more ready for what actual medical practice looks like because they will have had exposure to patients in the community and in the out-patient setting, really from the very first day.”

Hospital settings for the residents can include the special-care nursery, pediatric intensive care, and the wards.

Balfour said that having pediatric residents at the hospital is a positive step for staff.

“It’s always exciting to be able to share your knowledge and clinical-practice experience with young, keen, eager trainees.”

Residents are also good for the overall educational environment and for the 10-year-old Island Medical Program, Balfour said.

“So now the residents are going to be an extra resource for [the program] because we’re developing them as teachers and clinical supervisors.”

jwbell@timescolonist.com